Week ahead: Bank of England rate paths, a glut of EU data, US jobs and stimulus

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·5-min read
A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on December 29, 2020. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)
A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on December 29, 2020. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP via Getty Images

As we head into the first week of February, investors will be taking stock on a few of the big stories that continued to rumble this weekend.

Alongside the EU’s vaccine row, eyes will turn to a glut of key data from the region and a monetary policy statement from the bloc’s central bank.

Transatlantic trading matters will also be in the spotlight as regulators on both sides of the pond weigh in on the frenzy of retail trading that has been wreaking havoc in stock markets. Stocks closed on Friday having seen their worst week since October.

There are also a number of big companies reporting Q4 results, giving an indication on how heavily lockdowns in the run-up to Christmas weighed on top lines and the lasting impact of COVID-19 on the market a year on.

Perhaps most importantly for the UK will be indications from the Bank of England (BOE) on its rate path, with new information released on its review of negative interest rates and how their application might impact commercial banks.

Stories from the weekend investors will be keeping an eye on:

Headline company results:

  • Ryanair (RYA.L) — Q3 earnings — Monday

  • Amazon (AMZN) — Q4 earnings — Tuesday

  • Alphabet (GOOG) — Q4 earnings — Tuesday

  • Pfizer (PFE) — Q4 earnings — Tuesday

  • BP (BP) — Q4 earnings — Tuesday

  • Spotify (SPOT) — Q4 earnings — Wednesday

  • EBay (EBAY) — Q4 earnings — Wednesday

  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) — Q4 earnings — Wednesday

  • Shell (RDSA.L) — Q4 earnings — Thursday

  • T-Mobile (TMUS) — Q4 earnings — Thursday

  • Ford (F) — Q4 earnings — Thursday

  • Snap (SNAP) — Q4 earnings — Thursday

UK: BOE interest rate decision, PMIs and housing market indicators

London, UK
Monetary policy watchers will be out in force this week for the Bank of England’s meeting, as well as more information on any potential rate path. Photo: Getty

Monetary policy watchers will be out in force this week for the Bank of England’s meeting, as well as more information on any potential rate path.

While some policy makers have hinted in the past that they may support a move to negative interest rates, analysts at ING and others in the market expect rates to remain on hold this year, while QE remains the primary tool of delivering stimulus.

There will also be new data from the central bank on consumer credit for December.

Elsewhere, the Nationwide house price index will give a read on the temperature of the housing market ahead of the expiration of the stamp duty holiday.

Manufacturing and construction PMIs will also give a general health check on that sector of the UK economy since the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Watch: Will interest rates stay low forever?

Europe: Data, data and more data

European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, wearing face mask, attends the 16th Congress of Regions (Congres des Regions) in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris on October 19, 2020. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)
European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde, wearing face mask, attends the 16th Congress of Regions (Congres des Regions) in Saint-Ouen, north of Paris on October 19, 2020. Photo: GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images

It’s a big week in Europe for data, with fourth quarter GDP high up on the watch list. Individual country estimates for this have already hinted that the hit from a second wave of virus infections may be milder than initially anticipated.

ING analysts say: “With surprisingly positive growth figures for Germany, Belgium and Spain and a milder than expected contraction for France, the eurozone aggregate is likely to have contracted by less than 1% in the fourth quarter.”

Monday will also bring Eurozone unemployment numbers for December as well as German retail sales.

Central bank watchers will be on the lookout for the European Central Bank’s policy statement on Wednesday for indications of new QE or rate movements.

US: Fiscal stimulus talks rumble on and January jobs data

With a portrait of former President Abraham Lincoln hanging in the background, U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about his administration's plans to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic during a COVID-19 response event at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The US will, yet again, be waiting on progress for stimulus negotiations. With a minuscule majority, Democrats will have to work with Republicans to get president Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9tn plan passed. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The US will, yet again, be waiting on progress for stimulus negotiations. With a minuscule majority, Democrats will have to work with Republicans to get president Joe Biden’s proposed $1.9tn plan passed. The Senate filibuster where 60 Senators have to agree to end a debate and bring it to a vote is the toughest challenge.

Following months of back and forth, it looks like there will have to be a compromise and possible dilution of the aims to get enough support. People have suggested the package may be split into two so that the more favourable measures can be ratified before the more contentious aspects of it. It could end up being worth half of what the amount Democrats are gunning for.

Federal Reserve officials are also teed up to speak, and could face a grilling over volatile financial market conditions.

January unemployment data is also on the slate. December’s report saw a 140,000 fall in jobs, so Biden could have his work cut out. Economists have said they expect to see modest gains, with more growth in February now that California’s stay at home order has been lifted.

Alongside this, there is a glut of manufacturing data, a read on the housing and mortgage markets and crude oil inventories later in the week.

Donald Trump’s impeachment trial is also looming, scheduled for Monday 8 February.

Watch: Biden, Yellen urge action ‘now’ on COVID-19 stimulus

Rest of World

Elsewhere, the Reserve bank of India will give its interest rate decision and Japanese household spending will be in the spotlight.